Frequently Asked Questions

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Key themes from the Secretary of Defense message to the Department

By law, sequestration will last 10 years and cut $1.2 trillion of government spending (half from defense, half from non-defense). On Mar. 1, 2013, across-the-board reductions to current year spending will take place unless legislation is enacted that avoids such reductions.

DoD is one of several government agencies that will experience a significant budget cut. We expect to receive $46 billion less in non-exempt budget accounts through the remainder of fiscal year 2013 which runs through Sep. 30, 2013. Savings from furloughs will be critical to meeting budgetary cuts by the end of the year.

Sequestration cuts require all military services and defense agencies to furlough most DoD civilian employees for an average of one day per week for up to 22 weeks beginning Apr. 25, 2013. This equates to a 20 percent cut in pay which will negatively affect morale. Senate confirmed political appointees cannot be furloughed under the law. We are deeply concerned about the negative effects of furloughs on the morale and effectiveness of our valued civilian workforce.

Even if most of our approximately 800,000 civilian DoD employees are furloughed, savings of nearly $5 billion will still leave us $41 billion short of our $46 billion target. Thus, much more reduction in DoD spending will be required, affecting defense workers who are not direct DoD employees.

Furloughs will harm our ability to do important work, which will harm national security: civilians fix our ships and tanks and planes, staff our hospitals, handle contracting and financial management, and much more. All services or facilities which employ civilian personnel will be affected to some degree, to include reduced services, longer wait times, and fewer personnel available to provide necessary services.

Furloughs, like other spending cuts, will adversely affect economies in the communities where our civilians live and work.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management provides policy and oversight to the federal workforce. All personnel should read OPM's "Guidance for Administrative Furloughs" to learn how furloughs impact pay and benefits.

DoD is implementing furloughs with consistency across the department. Most civilians will be furloughed with few exceptions:

  1. those deployed in a combat zone,
  2. those who protect the safety of life or property to the extent needed,
  3. non-appropriated fund employees (NAF),
  4. those exempt by law who hold a presidential appointment with Senate confirmation (PAS),
  5. foreign nationals, and
  6. those excepted as approved by a 2-star flag officer or tier 2 SES, or higher.

Sequestration was never supposed to be triggered, but instead was intended to be a forcing function so that Congress would reach an agreement on deficit reduction. We are still hopeful that Congress will pass a balanced deficit-reduction plan that POTUS can sign, and sequestration is truly averted... not just delayed.

Additional Information

Secretary Panetta's Message to the Department of Defense

Importance of Civilians to Navy Mission

CNO Message to Commanders on Operational Risk Management

Video - VCNO Discusses Potential Sequestration

Continuing Resolution and Sequestration Communication Points for COs

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